Skip to main content

tv   Hearing on Social Security Scams  CSPAN  February 13, 2020 6:03pm-8:05pm EST

6:03 pm
elisabeth warren. and on sunday, light live at 5:00 p.m. eastern, joe biden, keith buddha judged and times are speak on infrastructure. life coverage on c-span, watch on demand at listen on the go, on the c-span radio app. sunday and 9:00 p.m. eastern, on afterwards, sally makes the argument against medicare for all in her latest book, false premise. all sprung us. >> just in december, there were over 4 million people on a waiting list to get treatment and the cancer treatment is not supposed to be delayed. more than 62 days. they have not met that standard for over five years and more important, in the world health organization studies, rent are the bottom of the wrong in the
6:04 pm
industrialized countries pretty. >> watch afterwards on sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on the tv. on "c-span2". next, social security administration officials testify in efforts to protect seniors from social security impersonation scams. witnesses look at what organizations are doing to combat these scams, and figure from utah resident was a recent victim. held by the agent committee, this is two hours. senate ag commission. says two hours. the meeting will come to order. good morning. today the special committee on the aging is releasing its updated 2020 book. it lists the top ten scams that have been reported to our committee over the past year. the good news is that the
6:05 pm
notorious irs impersonation scam, which had been the top scam reported to the committee for five consecutive years, has fallen off dramatically. he used to be number one and now it is number seven. still a problem, but public awareness has certainly helped to decrease the prevalence of that scam. unfortunately, the social security impersonation scams, the topic of this morning's hearing, has risen to take its place. reports of the ss a scam, barely registered as recently as 2017. but then it began to take off. cracking the top ten scams reported to our committee's hotline and 2018, and becoming the number one reported scam last year as shown on the chart
6:06 pm
displayed on the monitors. this scam has resulted in $38 million in reported losses to americans in 2019 alone. i suspect that is just the tip of the iceberg. many seniors who have been affected by this scam, are either too embarrassed to report their loss or don't even know who to turn to. the emotional and psychological toll for those who have lost hard earned life savings, are beyond measure. we will here today from michelle anderson who has been a victim of this ruthless scheme. and i want to personally thank michelle for her willingness to
6:07 pm
come forward and share her story because of her willingness to do so, i am certain that there will be other older americans are now no to just hang up the phone when they are called by somebody who is asking them for money or for gift cards and pretending to be from the social security administration were also very fortunate to have other terrific witnesses with us today. and who are working very hard to combat the scam and i will be introducing them at the appropriate time. today we will highlight the features of the social security scam that are key to defeating them and typically, theil scam begins with an unsolicited robo call with the stove caller id, falsely displaying the social
6:08 pm
security administration of the source of the call. naturally, most of us if we see on caller id, the social fecurity administration is calling us, we are going to answer the phone. the fraud that are making the calls, will attempt to scare the victim by claiming his or her social security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity deceiving the victims so that he or she will do as instructed without question. no man 92 -year-old mother received five of these social security administration scam calls on her cell phone. fortunately, she was not taken in and she knew to call me. but they were so clever and so specific telling her that her
6:09 pm
number had been compromised and used who commit fried fraud in texas. there were so many details that she wisely chose to check with me to see if there could be any truth in it. that is how clever and ruthless these criminals are. the scammer then attempts to isolate the victim said that no one can warn him or her of the scam and break the spell. finally, the criminals claimed that the only way that the victim can resolve the problem is to provide sensitive financial information over the phone and transfer thousands of dollars to them as quickly as possible. the speed and anonymity of gift cards, have made them the scammer's current payment method of choice. to emphasize the need for urgent
6:10 pm
action and the dire nature of the victims situation, the scammers often work in teams to impersonate local law enforcement, the irs, or other federal officials. in one particularly outrage case that we will hear about this morning, criminal claim to be the head of the drug enforcement administration and even suggested to his victim that she verify his identify by looking up his name and phone number at the agency online. to keep their victims under the spell, the scammers say that they cooperate with her bank investigation by the government or face the fines or even jail time. they also attempt to isolate the victim by keeping him or her on
6:11 pm
the phone uninterrupted for hours or even days at a time and by instructing them not to tell anybody about what is going on. they will cite the con confidentiality of the investigation. in recent case reported byy the wall street journal, and oncology nurse in new york was instructed to leave work without notice and check into a hotel and stay on the phone for nearly 50 hours. coached by the processors by ane series of transactions, at her bank and credit union, she lost almost $340,000 to scammers over three days. educating people particularly older americans were more likely to be the targets is key to
6:12 pm
defeating the scam. in today's hearing we hope to learn more about how these fraud fraudsters entrap their victims as well is what the social security administration has done and plans a to do to get the wod out to the public to consumer groups, two businesses, and to law enforcement at every level. we will also look at what should be done in response. in that area, i am pleased to note late breaking development that the social security administration working with a office of the inspector general, and the department of justice has recently filed civil suits against and temporary restraining orders in two cases against five companies and three individuals. that is finally progress. i also look forward to asking
6:13 pm
inspector general about new enforcement activity to stop these harmful people. i appreciate all of our witnesses and joining in this effort. my hope is that are hearing today, will help heighten public awareness about the scam because the best way for us to preventsc this scam from ever again robbing seniors of their hard earned savings, is to prevent the scam from happening in the first place. thank you am now pleased to return to our ranking member, senator casey for his opening statement. >> thank you very much. thank you for holding this hearing today. to discuss social security impersonations scams. as everyone here knows where the middle of a very important
6:14 pm
proceeding on the floor of the senate. at the same time, for americans who are worried about their loved ones being scammed out of their hard earned savings, our efforts here in the efforts of others, to stop con artists and fraudsters, must be taken just as seriously. it's for this reason i'm pleased that this committee, the aging committee, is taking on this topic as the first one that we examine in the year 2020. the social security impersonation scam, is an imposter scam. plain and simple. in this case however the imposter diabolically exploiting a public good, they benefit paid for and earned by hard working americans. and so we must not only be concerned for the sake of the individuals, individuals targeted but we also have to be concerned for the integrity of federal departments and agencies that are tasked with serving all
6:15 pm
of us. just last week, as we were preparing for this hearing, one of my staff members received this message from socialrs security imposters. >> will this is from the department of social security administration. recent of this call is to inform you there is a legal information on your social security number and it will be stopped immediately. so call us at the earliest possible time. >> you can tell from just a brief example, how alarming this could be forte someone when they are using highly charged language to get the individual's attention. anyone, anyone, could be a
6:16 pm
victim of this kind of a crime. one thing we have to be focused on of course is tracking these people down, prosecuting them and throwing them in jail. but we can just talk about that here, we've got to talk about ways to prevent it. and that is one of the main purposes of the hearing. in this case thankfully, my staff member recognize this for what it was. but not all arrogance are immersed in this issue every day. so today, where to make with no one from the united states government, no one, will ever make these types of threats. nein some ways, as senator colls talked about, we made some progress on the irs version of this. we are morning people with the irs would not do. we had to do the same in this case. so any help in getting this message out. every american vertically seniors, must be armed with information.
6:17 pm
it will take all hands on deck approach and the committee during this by releasing her 2020 fraud book. when i visit senior centers in my home set of penciling is a meeting of my bring copies of with me. every single individual who wants a copy goes home with on. his real w bestseller. at senior centers. as long as we keep bringing those copies with us. so this year, there also the same seniors will be going home with the poster that is inserted into the book and it's in the back. you can take a look at that. i want to make sure i use these visual aids. this poster, which is not huge the good sense of the size of it. give people a lot of information that her committee prepared. we are grateful that her staff helped us with us. but that is another way to remind seniors, we hope that this poster will be held up by
6:18 pm
the proverbial maintenance on the refrigerators are other ways to remind folks about the scam. public awareness alone is not enough for the federal government has to double its efforts and we will be hearing about those efforts today. for this reason i joined senator collins and is on the committee is sending letters to the social security administration, the inspector general for social security and the elder justice and trade commission asking for help. i know all of these entities are eager to help to engage. the private sector must also be involved. i have a bill with senator jerry moran, which will help banks, wire transfer companies and retailers to train their employees despite scam and stop it before money exchanges hands. the commerce committee passed this bill last year without any objection and were trying to get
6:19 pm
it through the senate as well. we know the con arson scammer should not be allowed to steal money from our loved ones nor should they be allowed to steal our confidence in government itself. we have a lot of work to do. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses today. and again i look forward to working with chairman collins and my colleagues in the committee and others in the senate to stop these imposters in their tracks. thank you chairman collins. >> thank you. i want to welcome senator mcsally and senator holly to our hearing today. they have been very active members of our committee. n appreciate their taking the time during this very busy time for all of us. i now want to turn to our witnesses and very pleased to welcome our first panel. we have the commissioner of the social security administration and group salt, commissioner saul was sworn in as
6:20 pm
commissioner in june of 2019. and he immediately began taking a leadership role in the federal reef spots to the social security impersonation scam. his long-standing commitment to protecting and improving financial security for older americans. having previously served for nine years as the chairman of the federal internment investment board which oversees the federal employees retirement system. our second witness will be down in us, gail innes the inspector general of the social security administration. sheal was sworn in as the ig. in january of 2019. after practicing law for more than two decades in security litigations, and making
6:21 pm
enforcement. she has greatly increased her focus on the ssa scam and we are very pleased to have two such dedicated public servants with us this morning. commissioner saul we will start with you. >> thank you very much senators for welcoming us here.m as you said, as everybody said so far, the publicity, the education is really the most important thing in my having this hearing, i hope we can further that co. many chairman collins, ranking member casey, the members of the committee. i mentor saul, commissioner of social security. thank you for inviting me here today to talk about the scam crisis. everyone here has probably received one of the scam calls. and too many people have been victimized and most money. it is a national problem.
6:22 pm
first we would not doing enough to combat these scams. that was shortsighted. the magnitude of this problem caught us off guard. americans trust our agencies and our employees and we cannot allow swindlers to erode the trust. emma first office visit employees told me how the scams harm americans and our service. we received more and more reports from people who have been tricked by or are worried about these calls. america's water health on this crisis and we also need to do critical social security work. processing benefit applications, and making sure we pay people the right amount. within a few months of getting here, i made finding the scams and helping our frontline e offices a top priority. limit inspector general, we
6:23 pm
started fixing things. we have been working closely with oig and i asked deputy commissioner black to lead our efforts to curb the scams as they will more we could do. now i believe we are on the right track. we are action at the national level, to help frontlineth employees provide better service to their localal communities and employees, district manager in maine who will speak to you about his offices experience last year before when taken on this problem. the me tell you about some of the things we are doing. anyone who comes to our home page, will see the bold red banner with scam information just like the one you see on the screens in this room. we are looking to add visages to the pages people visit most often.
6:24 pm
this is up from our actual webpage. this is on our homepage. we developed an online scammer reporting form to help oig get the information it needs to investigate and stop these crooks. since this farm went live in mid-november, oig has already received over hundred thousand written reports. we overall the oig broad hyatt hotline in a further 800 number. callers now hear about the scams and how to report them through oig online. we work with oig and major phone carriers to block calls that attempt to stove our toll-free numbers from ever reaching the department. education is key. we're using e-mail, television, radio, and social media including youtube, facebook, and
6:25 pm
twitter. last week we began rolling out e-mails to all 47 million my social security account holders and we are working to add a scam awareness message to the outside ofci our envelopes which will rd or reach millions of people. made public service announcements that we released this month to tv and radio outreach across the country. i did an interview with aarp that focused heavily on the scams and aarp will share scam information with its 38 million members. we appreciate that walmart work with us and oig will display a message number 2000 of its stores nationwide we are recruiting other organizations and agencies.
6:26 pm
we've issued two recent national press releases regarding the scams. and last month we provided every member of congress materials on the scams and i urge you to help us get the message out. everyone needs to hear this message, if the caller says there's a problem with your social security number or account, hang up. don't provide the money or personal information. record it at oig . ssa .gov. reported there. this is a tough problem to solve. these scams able as we were to shut down social security related to scams, crooks likely target another agency, just as they move from irs, to ssa. our country needs broad national solutions and will share responsibility to fight this serious threat to the public. if you've been tricked by the scams, you're not alone.
6:27 pm
these criminals are very good at what they do and you should not feel embarrassed or ashamed if you are a victim. you can help protect other people by coming forward and reporting what you know to oig. i think this committee for holding this hearing. to elevate the visibility of the scams and for working on solutions. i would be happy to answer any questions. >> thank you. inspector general and us. >> thank you for inviting me to testify about the oig efforts to raise public awareness and the social security phone scam sprint for the better part of a decade americans have been five persistent robo calls in my callers pretend to be government employees. too many americans have fallen victim to the scams believing sophisticated lies and threats because they fear for their
6:28 pm
families and their livelihoods and even their freedom. we've interviewed victims including a 30 -year-old mother of two in virginia who paid scammer $9000 at target and ige gift cards because she had no one to careir for her newborn ad she went to prison and 75 -year-old alvarion it was harassed and threatened for over a month i think police officer pretty eventually be wired and mailed cash or checks totaling over turn $60000. these pervasive scams have also impacted social security ability to deliver its vital services timely and they would damage the public's trust and social security. to combat than we have dedicated to significant resources to investigative efforts with working with the justice department and other law enforcement agencies and we raise like awareness working with ssa and other partners to reach as many as people as we can with our educational methods. i am very pleased to announce that as a result of our investigative efforts, the department of justice filed to comply history in new york . to
6:29 pm
very restraining order preliminary and permanent injunctions another relates against five tele- communication companies and their owners. after his this morning, covering three of the five companies in their owner, has been granted and we are hopeful of the other temporary restraining order will also be granted. according to the complaint some of these companies as gateway carriers, facilitate the delivery millions of fraudulent robo calls every day from foreign call centers to the united states telephone systems and ultimately to the personal files the victims throughout the united states. these gateway carriers will .otify repeatedly their passing erandals in that they allowed at least hundreds of millions of scam calls into the u.s. telephone systems and they've earned a lot of money in the process. in essence, profiting off of scam victims. the civil actions as a result of months of investigative work in close coordination withit the dj and sewer protection branch.
6:30 pm
had the transnational alert from strikeforce. the u.s. also inspection service partner in this effort and other law enforcement agencies including homeland security investigations, treasurer inspector general for tax ministration and secret service. they provide data to support the investigation. i am vertically proud of social security oig role in collaborative efforts and arranges an investigative counsel advocated for this top-down approach to combat the scams. we took the lead and invest getting the gateway carriers and we played a pivotal role leading up to yesterday's filing. we conducted a complex analysis of phone call routing interviewed countless victims and methodically built the government's case. we still a long way to go to formally shutdown these and of the gateway carriers that facilitate scam calls . and perhaps more clearly we need to ensure that we need others are filling the void. we continue to conduct these and other scam related investigations. i can share many details because our other initiations are
6:31 pm
ongoing but we will update you as these events unfold. notwithstanding, oliver investigative efforts it might continue to believe that raising the best andess is most effective way to combat imposter scams. no matter how many investigations we conduct or how many scammers who put us out of business there always be more run for and they would abide new ways of scamming and set victims. you can learn about our public outreach efforts in detail my written statement for the record and i will also take questions. despite all of her efforts and the scams and ige can address her own, we need a coordinated conference of approach that harnesses resources and expertise across the federal government. for both investigative efforts and raising public awareness. therefore we encourage congress to consider ways to expand upon the recently passed trade act. who would like to see the law required gateway carriers to know their customers and terminate service to known scammers. congress cano also rent forfeiture authority to certain agencies allowing them to use fund for victim restitution.
6:32 pm
thank you for holding the steering today. your involvement's first increased attention of this issue and help move us closer to a copper has of solution. thank you again for inviting me to testify and i'm happy to answer any questions. >> thank you very much. let me begin my comments by thanking both of you for your efforts. i will tell you that with this committee first started becoming aware of this scam two years ago, we naturally contacted the social security administration, the ig office, and frankly been a very difficult time getting them to pay attention and realize how important it was for the agency to confront and center and communicating with the beneficiaries about the scam. that is completely changed since the two of you took your
6:33 pm
positions last year. usually stomach questioning by chastising the witnesses. in this case i'm going to start them by thanking both of you because you are the ones who have the access to the people who are most likely to be the victims and the means to make them. such as through your messages online, social security accounts, the public service, the messages and the enforcement work which i think is so important. i want to talk a little bit about the role of these gateway telecommunications companies. because in reading about the complaints that were filed just yesterday, i learned that the companies that had been charged,
6:34 pm
and helped to funnel some 700 million calls. there were scam calls. that is absolutely outrageous. and they're making money from the fraudsters. so mr. saul, you talked about the tremendouste outrage that yu saare doing and inspector generl and is, you talked about working on this particular case it would like each of you to comment on what is the reaction of the telecommunication companies when you go to them and asked them to know their customers, to crackdown and help solve this problem. commissioner, will start with you. >> i think the inspector general
6:35 pm
has much more knowledge about this particular part of the function. as far as i'mor concerned, i thk that piece ofa the whole proble, i think the real essence in my job as commissioners to be sure that her beneficiaries are customers are aware what a serious problem this is. what i am trying to do andou focusing on in our administration is on the publica outreach. we are coming up with new things actually every week to improve the outreach that we have. we're not where we want to beat yet. but in the last five or six months, we have a come along way. i think we were not doing the job as he said my statement, this really snuck up on us. this has become a massive
6:36 pm
problem as we all know. very serious thing. i can imagine an elderly person or somebody getting these calls depending on social security just to buy the groceries getting threatened that they don't respond, they won't get payment in the future. so we have a really big mess. it's not going to go away quickly. i think everything we can do, i said this to aarp went over there for an interview, i said whatever help you can give us, this is great. they have 38 million members. we spent the afternoon recording home message which a lot of it was dedicated to the fraud. these are things i think in the end will make a really big difference. >> i agree. >> as far as carriersi go, the
6:37 pm
outreach, is what i am focusing on senator . >> inspector general, what is been the reaction of the telecom carriers . >> they been very helpful with both us and other agencies. one of the main drivers as they help us with a do not originate calls. we have numbers that weef nor or coming from somewhere. if we get information to this telecoms, and working with major carriers, they can prevent up to 99 percent of the skulls going through. the been a big help. there are pockets of rural areas and are by the major cover areas in the agency is taken over this do not originate effort inun contacting and reaching out to those other telecom carriers. i have sometimes more success than others. some ofng the smoke of a still have the technology to help with the frauds some of them don't want to help a the major
6:38 pm
carriers, we have to 98 and a 9 percent locking in the been instrumental on that. the problem is with the gateway carriers which likely can operate out of your garage. they don't need a lot of infrastructure. the only law people. you can set a few servers in your garage and be up and running. and of transmittal millions and and millions of calls and introduces calls from foreign calls centers into the united states telecom system they get routed around to various telecom companies. we are working against them. and had some success yesterday but the hard part of the problem friend alfred. >> thank you. is very helpful for us to know. one bill that had been introduced with double the penalties for people who are spoofing calls. and i think that would be helpful as well. senator casey. >> thanks very much. salute the work that's they're
6:39 pm
doing especially to outreach and education as well as the effort to target those who engage in these kind of scams. commissioner so i also mono express my appreciation for the responsive approach you brought to some of the work we've tried to do in particular reinstating regular meetings with stakeholder groups. in abandoning any plans to use social media to monitor the americans with disabilities. i appreciate the progress. i do have an issue on race today because a substantial and urgent. i just give you a copy of two letters one of which nursing, your agency seen yesterday. this mostt continuing disability reviews. the social security demonstration issued a proposed rule that in my judgment, and
6:40 pm
the judgment of lots of folks around the country would not be the best interest in people with disabilities. i want to quote from that letter dated yesterday signed by 41 united states senators. the role involves when and how often the social security administration conducts is continuing disability reviews. this role in our judgment would dramatically increase the number of reviews the agency conducts every year hundred and millions of americans with disabilities with more frequent and unjustified reviews of their eligibility for one sanskrit disability insurance until supplemental security income known as the ssi benefits. we going to talk about our criticisms of the role that the administration fails to clearly establish any further changes to
6:41 pm
fully evaluate the effects thesd changes would have on beneficiaries, nor does it provide inadequate cost-benefit analysis. i won't read the whole letter but in my judgment this role has buried hundreds of thousands of americans who have a disability with more administrative paperwork. also processes the agency almost $2 billion at a time when i hope there would be more effort made in know we talked a bit about this, to reduce wait times and also to reduce the hearing backlog. i know in 2017 an estimated 10000 people died waiting for ssdi benefits. i know you're aware of that challenge. imagine the two letters. hundred 20000 as of today, just two days from now this time is
6:42 pm
pretty they have submitted comments to the role as of this morning. i know you can't comment directly on the role because of the process but i would hope you not continueth to pursue this re and for all my time runs out or make sure that you put two questions on the record. have an additional letter that you know half, and i can take a close look at it but it is a long letter but also has 37 very specific separate criticisms of the role. on sq number one, make a commitment to provide detailed written response to me with regard to that letter. in the second question i have, as we do meet with me personally so that we can talk about this rule and the impact it can have. >> of course the answer is yes
6:43 pm
to both of those. we met before and i'm glad to be with you. i stand ready to meet with you and explain our position. i would just like to say for the record that we will of course address this back at the given me in a timely fashion. let me just say nobody here including myself obviously is happy with the disability process has worked over the years. absolutely right, that people waiting in disgrace. years in some cases, for hearings, the system was completely deluged in the severe economic downturn that we had in 2008 and 2009. where recovering from it now if you look at the wait time for hearings now, it's dropped further than a half and where was at his worst. i'm not happy with this. are the things i want to do is
6:44 pm
fix the disability process and next time inevitably unfortunately because of the economic cycles, going to find ourselves hopefully i like it was no eight or nine over going to have downturn and would have a claims coming in and would have more hearings and everything that put us in the mess we are in. we're doing two basic things. i don't want to take the time here but just to give you a little overview, first thing we have done was to ask john's hopkins to apply physics it is a tremendous amount of work took for the department of defense on healthcare and disability. come in and study our whole disability process from beginning to end. they are in the midst of this. this is not a big expensive
6:45 pm
thing. my limited the very few very bright people from hopkins. when the midst of their work. i believe we will have the report within the next two weeks and from what i've heard, they're going to have major recommendations to fix the way the workflows and processes works and the disability weight. just amazing the second thing as far as the regulations go, we have regulations that been updated for 50 years senator. the workforce has changed completely. healthcare has changed completely. i feel it is my responsibility to bring these regulations on the disability procedures up-to-date. that is why physical strongly about the regulations and i'm
6:46 pm
glad to sit down with you anytime at your convenience. >> senator casey raises some very important issues. i do hope we can get back to the topic of this hearing i would like to talk to a call next on senator mcsally. >> thank you. as already discussed yesterday we learned the justice department had restraining orders against two companies one of which is in arizona. my state. facilitated hundreds of millions of fraudulent trouble calls coming into the u.s. and overseas toll-free deals come. in arizona. carried seven and 20 million calls interstate 23 day. most of which lasted for less than a second. going up these companies is the first of a kind action and i
6:47 pm
really applaud all of the effort it took to get to this place. as with also mentioned in this wall street journal talks about the challenges the both of these companies operate under residential addresses. little more than a server and other basic equipment. i have said this and this committee before that there's a special place in for people who are scamming our veterans. i said that before and are seniors. and figuring out how to profit off taking away their life savings in this way. and disgusted nerves near his onion is doing this. the workir on efforts. how do we even find these people who can operate off of it server. can you share a littlepe bit moe about the challenges of payment getting to identify these awful companies are praying upon her seniors and what more can be done. >> challenges are great and it takes a lot of hard work from
6:48 pm
our investigative team. they had agents working this for quite some time. it is a lot of analysis and a lot of checking things down. new online form to the agencytr helps us develop is admin instrumental in having us move this case along will be better. we get real-time information. we had days to get real-time information. it is critical because these are fast-moving cases because when somebody christmas things money to move the money around, if you get truck that money around you lost the trail. there really is just men many hours of dedicated work from our investigators to talk to victims, to look at phone patterns and a look at the data we are collecting to do this. what more we can do is just because we are a small agency, i have 550 giveha or take employes
6:49 pm
and only several hundred or investigative guides. so what we have done is try to amplify our forces by joiningon forces with other federal law enforcement and state and local partners. it does gives a broader footprint around the country and we also developed a major case unit within the air like jeep so we can coordinate these efforts better more better with our law enforcement partners. so we are doing what we can being a small force but a mighty force and working with other federal law enforcement. >> charles mcnally, a constituent might of tucson, causes an aging fraud hotline and alerted that he had been cut but when he believed to be a social security scam. thankfully once the scammers and start to buy and send gift cards, eco- communication and hit enforcement given them there is a social security so in addition to seniors giving up their hard-earned life savings,
6:50 pm
giving up the social security number can obviously be lead into identity identity theft. if i'm going to new perspective on sharing how we are going to the root issue of may beat someone realizes that if the running down this road like charles but aaron give up his social security number pretty. >> so the problem with identity theft is enormous. even though they're looking to silly money, they can also be selling identity information. it's a little harder to understand if that information then maybe used came from this camp or something else. because and partially there are so many ways today that these can acquire your personal information through fishing and e-mail scams, throw other identity theft operations and then they fell on the dark web. we are learning a lot more as the and we investigate and i can assure that as we investigate, if there things that we can do to try to help prevent further use of personal information that may be acquired, we will do everything we can to stop it and
6:51 pm
in the meantime we advise, anyone to go to the ftc website where they give information to consumers people about what to do if you believe your identity has been stolen. and how to protect yourself against that. >> really want to apply the outreach efforts that you are making. my mom and many of my constituents are seniors. they're probably not on twitter and youtube so these other more traditional ways to communicate are really important. i am seeing what secret e-mails are being sent out. i had a couple of e-mails about reviewing my accounts. but i haven't seen anything related to alerts on scams. pushing out via e-mail, many seniors like my mom and those in arizona, bill via e-mail. in traditional through the mail as well. i would encourage you to keep it going. the more information the better is to help with the education.
6:52 pm
>> this is a continuing effort, we appreciate your support. you can be assured that we're just beginning this quest. we are into this i promise you. >> wonderful and thank you. >> statement thank you for calling this ring today and commissioner let me start with you. i'm struck by the fact that these reports of scams with the ssa has displaced what was the most popular and prevalent scam in recent years which is irs scamming is on the note, i'm wondering, have you consulted with his officials. the irs to see what worked or didn't work for them and combining that very prevalent iris scam in recent years. >> i guess we are the lucky ones
6:53 pm
now. as i said, i do believe that this is going to be expanded unless we can really do a good job and cutting it off. and yes our people obviously talk to and look to other agencies the justice department inspector general and working with other agencies. so are our people and a lot of the efforts we are doing in various mailers, social media, all of these efforts, a lot of it is based on learning from other agencies. >> are there other lessons the standout that you consulted gradee whether it is the irs or doj or others. >> i am not sure of that. i know this whole program that we have developed, hasn't been aided by the people's efforts in the area. it is not something that we've invented completely on our own.
6:54 pm
>> we have coordinated treasury inspector general's office and learn from their playbook. form that the agency helped us develop was right on their playbook. some efforts work for them to the scammers are very inventive. in the something works, they change. we are sort of playing catch up a lot. what worked then may not work today. you're always trying to stay ahead of it. >> let me ask you a couple of questions. telecoms. is there more that we need to do the congress needs to do in order to enable partnerships within telecoms. he seemed so vital to thisco predicament if you look at the complaints, the telecoms' eyes when i about the major telecoms, with they were alsopl helpful wh his some of the major ones put
6:55 pm
on notice, the companies have the subject of the complaint is really looking at the traffic noticing certain patterns in traffic company memo notice. they should continue to do that. because notices are helpful from a legal perspective when coming to receive notices. they can't say they didn't know. i think, i'm not an expert but i will say something that i think will hold the gateway accountable is something that we hold them accountable to they should know the customer. as a huge red flag something up to me charged with looking at the red lights and knowing who is behind that. and instead, it seems as though they were able to turn a blind eye so would hope that you could look at that and will be happy to provide any information we can should you be able to do something that regard. >> we will follow-up with you on
6:56 pm
that. my office received numerous complaint about social security impersonation scams. i'm wondering to what extent the social security administered and has prince coordinating with state attorney general other law enforcement officials. >> that's probably an area we hould look into more. we been partnering with other federal partners. there are many individual cases around the country were local law enforcement get involved. on the state attorney general but we probably could do a better job with that and thank you for identifying that is a place that we can partner up with. boys looking to extend our forces. >> thank you. senator blumenthal rated. >> thank you manager i think you for having this critical hearing. we all know from the seniors how robo calls and spoofing fishing, all of the techniques, so many other consumer areas also are
6:57 pm
used in this one like senator former tender journal, senator hawley, protecting seniors in his these kind of scams. they can be a life's work. i introduced social security 2100 which provides far-reaching reforms. these kinds of reforms are absolutely necessary to make the cost of lessening living realistic and the beneficiaries can actually get the benefits that are more comparable to cost the same today. additional benefits medicaid and other programs are not held against them in the bill would keep the program solvent through the end of the century. ensuring security for america
6:58 pm
but i've also included in this bill measures to assure protection against these kinds of scams. i think particularly in the area of enforcement, with respect to laws in the book, as well as new laws, enforcement is critical. the department of justice this may have been raised already in conjunction with the social security administration, the united states postal service and others in a separate enforcement action against the communications companies operating in new york in arizona who are facilitating facilitating robo calls in india. the department of justice is attempting to block these companies from making our facilitating future calls. i wonder if each of you could comment on the efficacy of
6:59 pm
current enforcement and what needs to be done to improve it. >> thank you senator reid thing right now yesterday there were several actions. we still have ongoing investigative work in conjunction with our partner so that we are hopeful that there will be more coming down the pike. the talk about the gateway carriers, legislating leave or otherwise legally. they tend to ignore or turn a blind eye to was obvious when looking at traffic patterns. i think there's a gap there. all of these trace back to the legislations all will help move the ball forward in trying to combat the scams. at the end of the day is about education and publicg awareness because as i have said, scammers
7:00 pm
are very creative liminal week plug one whole, frankly they will find another one. all efforts that you can make will be welcomed. the best thing for us to do is to educate the public. better coordination among federal agencies, what is happened to allow happened yesterday to occur in anything that we can do to facilitate that is also very helpful. his multiplier for small agencies like mine and expertise within the federal government and raise all of that attention to these issues. that is a wonderful thing as well. ... ... i have outlined in my rk
7:01 pm
over we are effectively communicating with our customer. if you look at the program which we did not have, senator, in the beginning, over the last six months we have vastly improved our outreach. and any comments, of course, we would like to hear, but i think over the next month's ss rolls out even further, we are on the right track now, educating our customers. steam at think you both your testimony, my time is expired. i think a full-court press on
7:02 pm
increasing the resources for enforcement is vital because we all know that the best lies on the books are dead letter if they are not enforced. thank you both for your service. thanks. >> thank you, senator. >> chairwoman collins and senior senator cayse, thank you -- when i was a member of the house i was proud to work with chairman collins to pass a senior safe act into law. it empowered financial institutions to report suspected instances for elder abuse. this congress, we have introduced the senior security active creative top force to protect seniors from financial crimes. soon, i'll be introducing the improving social security service to victims of identity theft act. a companion to the bipartisan house bill introduced by representatives john larson of connecticut and tom reed of new york.
7:03 pm
this bill will provide identity theft victims with a single point of contact within the social security administration when a fraud steals and misuses their social security number. rather than ask victims to retell their traumatic story to multiple employees, this assigned individual will be their trusted navigator across different functions within social security to ensure they are not fighting thesese battles alone. i look forward to working with the social security administration on this effort. my first question is for commissioner saul, but i would welcome additional thoughts inspector if you have anything to add. i want to share story of a constituent of mine, liz who was in mesa, arizona. in a single day she received over a dozen unsolicited phone calls and threatening messages falsely claiming her social security number have been compromised and suspended. the criminal side to scare liz into divulging bank account information. luckily she recognize this was a scam but she shared her story because not everyone
7:04 pm
would recognize it. identity theft and scams can be devastating which is why previously worked with senator tom scott tim scott on the protecting children's right that he theft act and with the social securityy administration to help families who social security numbers have been compromised. back when as a member the house. in cases where people have been scams. are there ways to help them financial recover? to secure their identities after their personal identifiable has been compromised? and if not what barriers help people get their life savings back or be able to secure their identities again? >> senator we are obviously facing a really serious problem here. i don't think there's a really simple answer. i know it would be easy to say here is what we are going to do, and we are going to make everybody whole and to everything. but it's not realistic. so again, i go back to the
7:05 pm
education process which i know it sounds very simplistic, but i do believe in the end to make our customer and beneficiaries aware of what's going on, is really going to dodo the most for identity theft and all of the terrible issues you have brought up. i want to tell you one thing though, one of our major efforts that is underway right now is individual identity recognition. we have to do a much better job in affording our customers the ability to have identity recognition. it is something we are working on. it is not easy because of all of the legal restrictions we have, but over the next year or two i do believe you are going to see individual identity recognition rolls out in el our agency and i very
7:06 pm
efficient manner. we are right in the midst of working on it, and it is very exciting. i think that will help tremendously in the issues you have raised. so we are very aware of it, we are going to be putting a tremendous amount of resources into developing the proper individual recognition systems. >> thank you. >> so, to follow on that, i think the decorative nest of using the social security number is a form of identity and every element of your life, i know we are trying to change that. the faster we can do thata the better awful will be for everybody. that number should not be as as a form of identification. in college i remember it was print on the face offo your check. with gotten better, but in every day and you transaction in your life they're asking for your social or the last four digits. that would go a long way, restitution -- if we are able to do things and investigate
7:07 pm
civilly or with enforcement efforts we can restitution from bad actors. if there was a forfeiture for agencies where fraud is a crime, we could look to have the victims funds try to restore some of those funds, those of some of things we talk about from an enforcement perspective. >> thank you so much and chairman thank you for hosting i get back. >> senator gibran. >> i want to thank the chairman and the ranking member for this hearing. we have been tackling this issue new york state constantly. i can tell you how many scams and seniors are robbed of all of their savings, everything they have left and devastating their families. i have talked to law enforcement and i have talked to our federal agencies. no mattered how many reforms they put in place, the problems continue to rise. we now have international russia, coming from from europe, from russia, from all over the great globe.
7:08 pm
they are trying to attack our seniors because they have a lot of wealth. think they have over trillion dollars in savings, so it's a tremendous source of money for them to skim out of americans. so mr. saul, just a couple questions. what have you seen, what successes have you seen in combating scams of financial abuse and older adults? what's the biggest challenges you face right now? and would better coordination betweent t agencies andnd the development and implementation of new education standards help? something that center collins liar working on right now. >> i think we need all of the help we can get to educate our customer and to educate the american public. so what all you can do, i am all for it. as i said in my statement and we talkedd about this this morning, we have rolled out a pretty comprehensive program our customer and or beneficiary through the help of ati lot of media and outside organizations plus our
7:09 pm
own internal communications. it's never enough. what ever help we can get, it is a continuing process we are in the initial phases of educating our people. in my statement you will see where we have outlined pretty extensive detail of our current efforts. i would appreciate any comments, any senator of course has or any of the staff has.s, but i do think at this point it's a matter of time now beefed to roll out the initiatives we have begun and i think it will make a big difference in educating the heamerican public. >> i want to talk to about a broader issue since we have you. cutting social security benefits. i had the pleasure of traveling all across the country because i was running for president for about eight months. i got the tax people in iowa,
7:10 pm
new hampshire, michigan, pennsylvania, wisconsin, and i can tell you social security is vital to their life and death survival. i saw the need for both our seniors and people with disabilities. and i would really like to work with the committee and gu on ways we can shore up social security. i was very worried when i heard from president trump that he was thinking of cuttingg social security and other safety net benefits. that was shocking to me given all the things i've heard across the country. i was also interested in assessing how we can help people with disabilities. this might be a subject for a hearing, particularly the caregivers. i wases wondering have you ever investigated whether or not you think it would be an appropriate benefit to get the minimum benefits for social security and the people with disabilities up to on average $1500. month and second would you consider ever allowing social security benefits for full-time caregivers?
7:11 pm
>> so i think, i take my responsibilities. and the social security administration really affects more people in this country than anything besides the military. that's what i always say. it is the most important thing there. we support almost 100 million people every single month. and some of these people depend on this to buy groceries, she said. halfde the people that receive old age survivors benefit have virtually no other savings, no other income, and without the support said they would be finished. they would be in serious trouble. i want to assure you i take this responsibility very seriously. i feel we need to do everything we can to shore up the social security system. i will leave that up to you guys. i mean, legislative responsibility and i really mean that.
7:12 pm
my job here, is to be sure that with the resources that we have, we delivered them and thee most cost effective, best way we possibly can. i am here to serve the beneficiaries and our customers.i since i have been here in june, that is our mojo, that is our motto. every decision we make is to serve the beneficiaries, and i really mean that. >> thank you's server. >> good morning, thank you for being here. thank you, senator collins and holding this for hearing. it's pretty funny and i won't say that an aha hallway, but the topic at hand was just a couple months ago i was on the senate floor and i walked into the cloakroom to answer a call that i thought was from a number that i knew, and sure enough, i'm a senator, in the senate cloakroom, getting told
7:13 pm
that my social security number isng sadly being deactivated -- whatever is the language they are using. i thinkat that is the weekly pass the robo calls or introduce that. it's pretty ironic that even senators get these calls when we are here doing this. we could be having them on our phones as we speak. and so of course i am in no means the only nevada in an targeted person. nevada has the most cases of fraud. capita of 1500 losses. year end the fifth most with over 7500 cases reported last year. you just mentioned you talk to r100 million people every month. so as a former systems analysis, i was thinking about how wech could plug-in ass this is kind of a two-part question for both of you. we have a very interesting infrastructure.
7:14 pm
our banks, our credit card companies i wrote some of those programs how can we take e ese statistics that we know on this, plug into their existing infrastructure, to warn, identify, let people know. and secondly we know that seniors probably get most of their bills, i would suspect in the mail. their utility bills. so every month you get an electric bill and there are ways to put little flyers, things in there that are instructive that a senior who may not be using the internet, may not be capable because of age or disability, but everyone has to -- is usually paying an electric bill, water bill, gas bill, public utility bill. are there some place in our national infrastructure that we could connect with us nearly a 100 million people every month that you are touching already? >> so i want to assure you
7:15 pm
that we are in constant communication with our beneficiaries. for example we just came up with -- as far as the scam withj fraud that i outlined in my initial remarks, we came up with a wayra that all of our mailers now, on the outside of the envelope, just something you are referring to is going to have the scam message printed, fixed to the outside of the envelope so when you get a normal statement you are going to get a scam notice. because we did go to open up the envelope, right smack in your face is going to be our scam information. >> but maybe their other partners, other family members and other partners in the communities that would be helpful to use this to. >> whatever we can do. this is an ongoing thing but we are coming up constantly with new ways to be able to communicate with our customers. as far as using the banking
7:16 pm
system and other private-sector corporations, we have an act that we are partnering with all the financial, not all, but financial institutions and banks as we speak. we are rolling it out in june where we are going to verify theithe social security identity numbers for the institution. so semi comes in applying for credit using a social security number, we will verify for that institution that they are legitimate. so yes we are working -- this is a major role out for us that has been doing with consultation, with legislation and consultation and participation by the financial industry. those banks are actually paying for the technology to support this endeavor.
7:17 pm
>> that's great i think there's a lot of ways we can partner and streamline now. >> i don't know if you were here when i spoke initially, individual identity is going to be one of the most important technological things you are going to see come out of the social security administration and the next two years. we are going to be spending a fortune on this to develop a really proper individual identity. it looks like itrt is going to be through the use of driver licenses, you will hear more about this over the next six to nine months as we roll this out. but it is one of my priorities. so there is a lot going on in this area, you are absently bright to bring up center. >> thank you i think i'm out ofol time. >> we are just partnering with the united states postal services that will have a poster in the post offices around to warn about this. but your suggestion there's probably other utilities and
7:18 pm
infrastructures that we can continue to reach out to. again it's about resources to do that. but we are working that way with retail, banks, financial institutions with educational materials as well. >> thank you veryst much. i want to thank our panel of witnesses, the commissioner, the inspector general for all of the work that you are doing. and for sharing with us your ideas. we look forward to continuing to have a close partnership so that we can put an end to this pernicious scam that is costing so many of our vulnerable seniors, literally their life savings. so i thank you for your commitments, for the actions that you have taken, and for being with us thisnk morning. i'd now like to call forth our second panel of witnesses. first we will hear from michelle anderson who joins us from utah.
7:19 pm
missus anderson has courageously agreed to testify today about her personalrs experience with the social security scam. she is accompanied by her husband, utah state representative kyle anderson. the second witness we will hear from today is from the great state of maine. justin rochon. he manages the social security field office in maine and will testify today on behalf of the national council of social security management association, which represents a social security field office managers throughout thehe country. he has served as social security administration since 2004 and has managed the field office since 2011.
7:20 pm
we are very grateful for your service and for your being here with us today justin. finally i will turn to our ranking member to introduce our witness from the commonwealth of pennsylvania. >> thank you chairman collins i am pleased introduce a good friend of mine's also a great friend to seniors in pennsylvania. she comes from southeastern pennsylvania, i come from the northeast about two hours north. but i have known nora for many years. and for more than just a few years she has been working on aging policy. she currently serves as executive director of the mayor's commission on aging and the city of philadelphia. previously he served as assistant director for the officeph of older americans at the u.s. consumer financial protection bureau, and was the secretary of the pennsylvania department of aging. nora brings a wealth of experience or testimony before this committee.
7:21 pm
i have known both nora and her husband, jim, for many years and i am grateful they are here nor thank you for appearing. >> thank you. missus anderson, thank you so much for being here today. >> chairman collins, ranking member cayse, and distinguished members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to tell you about how international criminals use a social security scam to steal $150,000 from me and my husband. money we had worked our entire month lives to save. this terrible story began on friday december 6. i was busy and distracted that day because one of my daughters had just had surgery and i needed to help with the grandkids. at some point i noticed i had missed three automatic voice males from what appeared to be the social security administration with the messagesw telling me that my social security number had been compromised.
7:22 pm
when i called back, a man who claimed to be joseph answered and he told me he was with the social security administration. he gave me his badge number and he told me that i was to look him up online. i would find that he was a chief counsel to the social security administration. then he told me some bad news, a car registered in my name was found with blood all over it's at a crime scene near the mexican border. worse, he said that my social security number had been used to set up multiple bank accounts associated with a drug cartel and he then transferred me to it someone who claimed to be a dea invest cldecatur. this man told me that my family was in danger. that my social security number was being used by a very powerful drug cartel and that they would be watching my every move. he said that any accounts associated aided with my social security number it would be seized as part of the
7:23 pm
dea investigation and that to protect our money our need to transfer all of it to a safe offshore account. he said if i cooperated i would receive a new social security number and get all of our money back. but if i didn't, i could be suspected of working with the cartel. he insisted that i ask normal tell anyone, and he reminded me that both the bad guys and the government were watching everything i was doing. by the time i arrived at the credit union it was too late in the day to send transfers overseas. but i was able -- excuse me combine allas of our resources into one account. that weekend i called the scammer back to see if there's some other way to handle the situation. he said the only other option was my arrest. so monday morning i went to the other financial institutions where we have accounts to transfer all of our money to hong kong. the scammer insisted that i keep him on speakerphone the
7:24 pm
entire time. i was in theey credit union so i put the phone in my purse. when the clark asked while sitting so much money overseas i said it was for just like the scammer told me. that was the only question i was asked. ultimately i sent $154,646 in two transfers to hong kong. in hindsight, i realize there are many signs that should have recognized indicating that as being scams. but this scammers had me so worked up they told me i had to be convincing or i would end up being arrested. they even sent me fake arrest warrants. but i also wondered why my financial institution did not ask more questions when a long-time customer, who had never executed wire transfer gtsuddenly cash cds in which penalties were charge. deposited large amounts of money from other institutions and transferred almost every dollar she had to an institution to a bank in china
7:25 pm
to buy electronics. having our life-saving stone had maybe realize there are some very bad people in this but losing this money has also reminded me that myv life is rich in many ways. i live asi wonderful life, in a wonderful place. i have a great husband and a great family. i am truly blessed. maybe hearing my story will help protect some other family that would have had a harder time recovering from something like this. maybe my story will help these stop once and for all. i hope so. thank you for allowing me to it tell my story here today. >> missus anderson, before we go onto the next witness, i want to thanks you for your courage for coming forward and publicly describing what happened to you. and i can assure you that you personally are going to be responsible for many other
7:26 pm
people not getting scammed because they will recognize the signs due to your courageous testimony. i know it took a lot to come forward and tell what happened to you, but you've done such a public service, and you will save so many other people from going through the terrible scam that robbed you of over $154,000. so i just wanted to thank you before we moved on. >> thank you chairman collins, i hope so. >> mr. gross sean, welcome. my name is justin groh shut i'm the district manager of this a scary office. i'm also the president of the new england social security management association and executive committee member for the national council of council associations. on behalf of the national
7:27 pm
council and my colleagues back home in maine, thank you for the opportunity to be here today to discuss social security impersonation scams. in october 2019, our national council conducted a survey on the various ssa impersonation scams and the impact on social security field offices, and teleservices enters nationwide. we received responses from over 500 managers and supervisors on the impact of the respective offices. over 97% responded that their office had received reports from the public about collars impersonating a social security employee. of those, almost 70% reported that this was a daily occurrence with 50% reporting as many as 15 contacts. day. in my homere state of maine, all of our field offices have impacted by ssa impersonation scams. every day, our offices to scholars and visitors report social security scams and in many instances the impersonators appear legitimate to their victims as a spoof or mask the call with
7:28 pm
an actualf social security field office number. after receiving impersonation call a large number people contact our office to an attempt to verify the call. in some instances this leads to increase call volumes of 400 to 1000%. the increased call volumes prevent our agency to conduct legitimate business with those seeking our core services. for one main office this increase call volume lasted almost 22 days. ultimately that office was forced toc change his phone number. consistent with information shared by the social security administration's office of inspector general, the people contacting our offices in the case of the impersonators threatened with legal action, fines, rest, or make promises for increased benefits. there are other ways the case scammers have impacted our ability to serve the public. several offices have reported receiving automated robo calls to their phone lines inundating their phone system with threatening messages similar to those received by our customers.
7:29 pm
in one day alone in office received almost 2000 automated calls to the office general htinquiry phone line. and during that time the office wasd unable to serve its actual customers by phone. in my own office, the general inquiry telephone line, the number i rely on to serve the public was used an automated call scams. the scam occurs on three separate occasions, each lasting three days. the significantly reduced our ability to serve the public and the greater service to the residentshr of our county. today we have heard from an individual, directly impacted by the scams. her story should not bef considered considered an isolated incident. it has become an unfortunate incident reality for employees each week. their stories have become all too common. fraud schemes are not isolated to maine, they are prevalent throughout the united states. in our college from all 50 states have experienced similar issues. managers and supervisors in offices across the nation have expressed the same concerns as my colleagues back home.
7:30 pm
it is important to note some of the feedback are managers provided describing additional implications of the social securityrs information scams. first, employees conducting legitimate social security business have been met with suspicion leading to repeated telephone calls. the need for members of the public to visit our office and delays in processing claims and other post entitlement work. second, some customers are convinced social security employees are behind the scammed calls and thus view our staff at this trust. this further erodes the confidence the american public has an our agency and in the federal government as a whole. that said, our employees will continue to do their best to assist our customers with questions and concerns related to the scam calls. on behalf of the national council, thank you for the opportunity to be here today. we want to ensure that maine residents and the american public have faith and trust in the social security ministration and that they are reassured that they won't fall victim to those trying to impersonate ssa employees. we respectfully askur that you
7:31 pm
listen to our comments and provide assistance to the residents of maine and the rest american public received the critical service they deserve for the so security ministration without fear of compromising their information. we greatly appreciate the committees focus on these issues and i would be happy to answer any questions you may have at that time. >> thank you very much. >> good morning senators and a special thank you it to senator cayse for inviting me tood it speak today. as a government official and a public interest attorney who has advocated for older americans for more than 30 years, i am pleased to present today so mightiest for reducing the vulnerability of older americans to the social security impersonation scam. i'm a proud philadelphia and carrey's leadership and public safety for all philadelphians. senator cayse and senator collins, this committee continue to shine a light on the critical needs of older people in our country. we are proud tohi have senator
7:32 pm
cayse represent us in washington on this important committee. i am the executive director on the mayors for the aging and philadelphia where were almost 9500 older adults live and work. locally, nationally, globally people are living longer. longevity bonus demands a new approach to our way of thinking. philadelphia seniors are a diverseap and culturally vibrant part of our neighborhoods and many live with family and loved ones and multigenerational settings. however, nearly one in four or 24% of older philadelphians living alone, see friends and relatives less than once a week. this can lead to isolation and vulnerability. it should be considered when developing interventions to help protect them against fraud. philadelphia is also home to the largest percentage of seniors and poorest overall population in the top ten cities in the country. i am not going to go into social security scam again, i
7:33 pm
think we have it down. i think we realize that the latest variation onn telemarketing fraud that we've all been working to prevent for many, many years. but i think we need to look at some of the solutions that have worked and in fact work at change in scams in the top ten from the irs scam to be number one to the social security scam being number one as a successful story of sorts.he many people now know that the cyrus calls that have been coming in for years are phony. the same has not reached people about the social security scam. and in fact, i didn't hear about it until i got a call from senator cayseut asked me to it come to speak to this committee. so course i did a low research, but i was not hearing about it on the ground in philadelphia where we run programs to support older philadelphians in partnership with the corporation for aging. we just went to the opener bowl and season for medicare where counselors are talking to older philadelphians every day on medicare and what to choose. and often social security
7:34 pm
comes up. so i think wow that was a missed opportunity, we certainly will be looking at the social security scam, looking at the materials, especially those materials created in partnership with the federal tradede commission, the social security administration, and my former agency the consumer protection bureau. they have already created an excellent piece, it's a one page it's similar to senator bayse is what's in the back of the most recent report, its brief, it's concise, it's really helpful. now we need to get the word out. i willl recommend that we also passed the stop seniors scams act sponsored by the ranking member senator cayse and the commerce subcommittee on manufactured trading consumer trade. the act recommends that an advisory council be created, it collect and develop model educational materials for retailers, financial institutions, banks, and credit unions and wire
7:35 pm
transfer companies to share their employees. employees are often the front line as he heard from missus anderson, that last moment in time and we can prevent that money from going abroad, never being returned in many instances. we can examinene the ways these business can use their platforms educate the public on scams. we can provide additional helpful information to retailers, financial institutions, and wire transfer companies as they work to prevent fraud affecting older adults. they need this information. we can publicly report information about the newly created models as well as recommendations and findings of the advisory council. and i will say also we should look to successful models that are already out there to see if we can be created money smart for older adults in recognition of the reality that older adults have been, and continue to be prime targets for fraudsters. money smart for older adults, version 2.0 is also available spanish. it raises the awareness of many common frauds in scams and that is important because
7:36 pm
the scam today social security, which is a terrible thing, but next year it might be something else, and the followings year something else again.ex so we need to have a mechanism in place to educatete people about the scams ass they are changing. faster than the fraudsters can change them. outreach and education that the federal government is already funding called senior medicare fraud patrols, are currently conducted in every state and can be replicated with a focus on social security scams. this will take resources. the smp program model is one of prevention. s mps have provided medicare beneficiary since 1997 to scrutinize their medical bills and statements. the oig reports therapy expectedie recovery to medicare and medicaid and chip into the products from 1997 through 2018 were over $100 million. total savings to beneficiaries and others were proximally 7 million. but that's an undercount i'm sure. i'm grateful for your attention to this matter, and i thank you for the
7:37 pm
opportunity to speakef with you about it. other opportunities could exist with meals on wheels and aging's that on are already communicating with older americans, especially shut-ins. thank you. >> thank you very much for your testimony and your recommendations. mr. anderson, in your written testimony you mentioned that the criminals also tried after they had received all of your life savings to get you to remortgage her house. could you tell us a little bit about that? >> yes, they called and asked if i had a mortgage on my home and id said no, our home is paid for we have no mortgage. he said that's what i was afraid of. we have got to secure your home before the seizure. we arewh going to need you to come up with 45% of the value of your home. he said what do you think your home is worth and i told him
7:38 pm
and that means you're going to have to come up with about e$200,000. and you're going to have to get a mortgage. i said i cannot get a mortgage without my husband. in fact i was so weary of all these calls and stuff that i began to laugh and said that's really funny, i can't do that. he said then you are going to have to find someone who can give you that money or you will lose your home. i kind of just put it away because i was with the grandchildren. i was picking up one of them from preschool, i went about my day, he called again he said you're going to have to seize my home, i don't have that kind of money i don't know anyone who does. andom he said no you have to start calling people. you will lose her home. this is serious threat. and i thought i was talking to a dea agent at the time.
7:39 pm
i said okay, i hung up the phone and i called our best friend who i thought might have that kind of money. and he said i don't have anything liquid right now, i am so sorry then call the back a few hours later and said i can get to $60000 today. i can get to the other hundred and 40 on monday. i said thank you. i told him i can't tell you what it is for, my husband can't know, your wife can't know. and her was still willing to loan me that money. i am so grateful that i came was able to and look some of this up online before i went any further. >> did he ask you whether you might be being scammed? >> my friend did, he saidh michelle, are you sure you're not being scammed? and i said i'm sure i'm not, i'm not being scammed. >> and was that because you thought you were dealing with the dea agents, with the
7:40 pm
social security administration, with trusted federal agencies? >> yes. >> so what do you think you would have been helpful in stopping you right from the beginning. now you were in a very stressful situation. your daughter had had surgery, you are taking care of your young grandchildren, so you had a lotot going on in your life personally that was causing stress. buty tell me what you think would have been most helpful. i know that at the credit union they asked one question and we passed a law that i wrote with claire mccaskill and senator sinema was helpful in the house to give an immunity to banks and credit unions so that they can ask those kinds of questions and not violate to bank privacy laws. do you think further questions
7:41 pm
would have been helpful? what do you think it would have alerted you? >> i do i think that is the front line, the banks and creditit unions. we have talked about it since, there were many signs that i wast being scammed. in hindsight, i can see now. but the bank would have been the front line for me because i watch very, very little tv and i rarely listen to the radio. so maybe it sounds like i live under iraq, i don't know. but that's not part of my day. >> i think a lot of us might be better off not watching television these days. that's a joke for all the medianews people here today. >> if i had been asked more questions at the bank, i would have helped. >> that is helpful to know because getting the word out is soo important.
7:42 pm
>> mr. gross sean, you have given us a whole different picture today and a really important one. you mentioned that every single field office in maine has had to deal with the flood of these calls with spoofed numbers. how many field offices do we have in maine? do you know off the top of your head? >> i believe it's eights. we have eight offices. >> it sounds like this was overwhelming their ability to carry out their day today business in rolling people in social security giving them advice, making sure they have the forms for medicare is that accurate? >> yes it was to different degrees to different offices. i certainly speak that auburn
7:43 pm
had the most catastrophic of those that we described of spoofed numbers where our numbers were moot use on the caller ids so when they return phone calls for all intensive purposes it inundated the phone system and rendered them the day forss forls serving our actual customers and our local service areas. >> and you mentioned another fact which i think is really importance, this scam not only has hurt so many people nationwide, but it has eroded trust in federal employees and those working so hard to serve the public. could you talk a little bit about that? >> absolutely. there's a few different ways i talked about delays in processing claims. one good example is we are trying to get individuals who are capable of certain files
7:44 pm
claims online. sometimes as claim requires a follow-up with them to just clarify a question or answer they provided. many of those instances where we reach out to them by phone, they don't believe that is actually as calling even though they just filed an application online the day before. often times, that requires an in person visit. if you speak to maine or anywhere that has large geographic areas that can mean somebody driving upwards of an hour in the northern half of them state over two hours to their local field office to have an in person interview. that really was not necessary should we not have had this other factor of potential for scam call. so that certainly is one way that distrust is exhibited for us in trying to conduct actual business. there are times when people maile us paperwork that needs a
7:45 pm
couple of questions answered. and again we make phone calls and even though we just received paperwork from this individual,, they know they sent us something. they don't believe we are who we say we are. that's a challenge. and unfortunately for us in order to identify you over the phone so that we can disclose certain pieces of information to you. we are going to ask you, six what should be very private g questions do to make sure we are not disclosing information to somebody else. privacy that creates a cataclysmic problem of wee need to ask certain questions but they don't believe who we are. and there is just extraneous contacts. >> i think you brought up a very good point that it has not been discussed before. but think about it, if you see on your caller id that is social security administration calling, and then the person is asking you for personal
7:46 pm
information, how is the average person or anyone going to be able to distinguish between whether this is a scam call versus a legitimate call from social security following up on a claim that has been filed? >> that's a great question and if someone has received these calls myself and summon work in the agency, i can call back but that doesn't lead to a field office and does lead to somebody pretending to be in a field office somewhere. we can ask certain questions about what office are you in and what phone number should i call, who else works in that office or some other questions like that. typically if you ask it of questions they will start to stutter and so i think asking to call back typically they
7:47 pm
don't have enough good answers. but that's not to say, as was pointed out the level of sophistication that the individuals have described this problem, is more than i would have ever anticipated or imagined. this is not somebody just calling youou on their own from their basement. this is a very well organized attempts to steal your personal information or finances. >> it's very sophisticated. i have gone way over my time, but i'm just going to ask you one more question before yielding to senator cayse. i apologize, but i know we are going to be repping up the hearing. that is when someone does contact the local field office or comes in, who has been targeted by a scam what steps do your employees go through to try and assist them? >> again, this is where the
7:48 pm
problem will depend on exactly what their allegation is. did they actually become a victim to some other financial exploitation in which case weco directly refer them to local law enforcement. andit then we make our own referral to the office of inspector general so theyaw have enough information that they can start to work with and contact that individual directly themselves for an investigative piece. if it's just a case of losing personal information or identity information, we do make the referral to the individual to the federal trade commission, to the major credit bureaus to understand what things they can do to try to protect themselves. but at the end of the day the factory uses social security number four identity is a big problem. and unfortunately, a lot of these people come to us because they believe there something that we can do to help protect them and there really isn't a mechanism for us to do that at this point. >> thank you very much senator cayse, my apologies for going
7:49 pm
over. >> chairman collins thank youf very much we could spend a lot more time and we all wish we could but i am grateful for the questions you asked. i will be following up on the first line of questioning. i do want to start with this is anderson and i want to thank you about your testimony, your appearance here. as senator collins said your example, you're coming forward is going to help a lot more americans, and not just a few. i think in recent history we've seen worse ou one brave citizen coming forward demonstrating uncommon encourage can really change the way we approach a problem. the way others will be inspired to be more aware, more vigilant, i just can't even imagine what you had to endure. what jumped out of your
7:50 pm
testimony i think it was the third page of your testimony where you talk about your seven month old grandson with you in a car seat and you had to haul the car seat into the credit unions. that kind of pressure and trauma i think demonstrated the kind of assault you were enduring. so we are grateful that you are willing to talk about it. at one point you made in your testimony around that same page and in light of senator collins question about the credit unions, the bill that senator moran and i have been working on got to his committee, help sometimes when the committee chairman's working on the bill with you. but we are trying to get it to the whole senate, but one of the things we are trying to do there is to provide an opportunity for more training for those who work in credit unions, retailers, banks, and
7:51 pm
the like. so i am assuming that part of the response to what you had to live through is that kind of legislation. there may beo other ways that you can provide help, not just on a bill like that, but for other strategies as we go forward. ii just want to commend and salute your work and take the time to be here. >> thank you. >> in light of that i want to turn to nora about the bill. nor, in light of these -- this testimony and also anything else you want to add to the list or itemization of solutions in addition to the bill, my building spoke about. anything else you think we lshould be doing? one thing i will probably say is we are trying to do everything we can not to simply focus onbr retribution.
7:52 pm
because if we did that all day long we won't get to prevention and all of that. but wow, when i hear missus anderson's story, you will want to seek vengeance as we should. that is what law enforcement is for, partially. and sanctions. i hope that anyone who engages in this conduct goes to prison not years, but decades. in addition tone that, i hope that we can share some stories about works, what doesn't work, and other solutions. so if you or anyone else on the panel wants to speak to that before we wrap up? >> i think aggressive enforcement is critically important. he think we all agree with that. it's hard to sit by and hear missus anderson's story and not want to throttle someone. it's just terrible.nd we have been successful in the
7:53 pm
past working together across disciplines and the public sector and the private sector and educating people. 10000 people a day turned 65 in this country and are relying on the social security administration to help them through that process. direct claim for so security now to await later? it's a critical time in our country. the fact that social security is now being used as the key imposter scam, means that we really have to pay attention to it. i know i will, i engage with older people acrossth philadelphia. wewi were at the firehouse senior center in west philadelphia. that is a vulnerable population i am most concerned about.t. they rely on social security, some may be isolated in this term, isolation not really having engagement with the world as much as others do. they may be even more vulnerable. so i think of something we really need to work on. i really love what you're trying to do the stop senior scams n act because it brings
7:54 pm
people together. it helps us engage, not just in education but in education of the financial institutions. you and i know that is an individual who works at that bank that missus anderson went to is going to have that on their conscience. i'm sure they know about it now. it is not good for the finance solicitations either. they want to educate people they want to stop scams. so we really need to help them to provide them with data partnerships are a key way to do that. >> anyone else, no we have to conclude. >> on behalf of the management association we would agree that public awareness is critical to this and anything that can be done is helpful. and i mean anything. they're still a number of people that aren't aware that this is going on. so thank you. >> think of a much. >> thank you senators. >> thank you, senator cayse. it's evident from the hearing the two panels today and the excellent witnesses, that combating these scams is going
7:55 pm
to take a coordinated, all hands on deck effort. that is what we are committed to doing. we will, as i mentioned, be releasing our annual fraud book, and it has tips for seniors like senator cayse, i tried to get these h into senior centers i all over the state of maine, area agencies on agency are also helping distribute them as is the aarp. if we can heighten public awareness, we can prevent people from being victimized. but i don't think we should underestimate the ruthlessness, creativity, and pressure tactics that are used by these criminals. i called them scammers, i call
7:56 pm
them fraudsters, but in fact they are criminals. they are stealing money. money as well as personal information and that is so troubling to me. this hearing is the 25th hearing that our committee has held on scams that target seniors. and if that ought to tell you about our commitment to stopping them. but it should also tell you infinite variety and the persistence of criminals who perpetuate these scams. i'm pleased to hear today that the social security administration and the inspector generaly are working with government, with law enforcement, with industry partners, with consumer groups like aarp, to raise public awareness and disrupt attempts
7:57 pm
that are in progress. but missus anderson, i will tell you, there is nothing more effective than for people to hear a first-hand account from someone who is just like them. that is the most effective means of education. i commend the department of justice for taking enforcement action. for many years the department of justice said while these are two small dollar individually, when in fact the latest statistics show that seniors are losing close to $3 billion a year to these pernicious scams. and again, i think that is the tip of the iceberg because in many of these scams and losses are never reported to law enforcement. so i hope that we are also
7:58 pm
encouraging more people to come forward, to report to law enforcement. our committee has a hotline, and as i said at the very beginning, this social security scam is now the number one reported scam to our hotline. we are going to continue our educational efforts, our legislative efforts, and our attempts to encourage further law enforcement. just one final point on law enforcement. a lot of times, as we have learned, these gateway communication companies are very small, they are easy to put together, and they are hard to locate. but another problem is the scam may actually originate overseas. in fact, india, has been a source of call centers for theseee scams and thus we have
7:59 pm
to have federal law enforcement involved in order to close down those overseas call centers. that is really important as well. but together we are determined to continue to work with all of you to fight these ruthless criminals who are targeting our nation's seniors and often those who are most vulnerable, who are living on their social security checks, who have very little by way of savings. senator cayse, do you have any final comments you'd like to make? >> just briefly chairman collins. i want to thank you for this important hearing, want to thank our witnesses. we have heard today how ruthless, and i'm think that's an understatement, of how the scam artist can be. will have elected officials
8:00 pm
just sacred duty to continue our work to protect her seniors against these criminals. to use a word that senator connellan's use, it's important word to use in these contents. especially when these criminals represent themselves as the united states government.d i'm glad we are releasing our 2020 fraud book. that gives seniors important information about the scams. we know that this kind of information alone won't solve the problem, we have a lot more work to as i mentioned my senior scams bill that will help better prepare and train retailers, banks, and wire transfer companies are involved in the fight. but chairman i want to thank you for and our witnesses for possible to get a word out today. thank you. : : : word out today, thank you. >> thank you in addition i want to thank our hardworking staff who put together this hearing and identified witnesses they
8:01 pm
are very committed as well and i thank them, committee members will have until friday february 7th to submit additional questions for the record if thank you again to i'll our witnesses and all the committee members who participated in the itaring today. the fact that we had so many members drop by at such a very busy and intense time for the united states senate speaks very well to the commitment of members to helping and this effort to halt these scams. this concludes the hearing. [background noises]
8:02 pm
[background noises] >> sunday night on q&a a look at american presidents through the lens of the book favor with journalist and historian. >> the story has often been, you sought in that quote that kennedy's father was the one pulling the strings behind, but that is not trooper jack kennedy wanted that pulitzer prize. there were multiple times when he brought up the pulitzer prize. he told another historian i'd rather win a pulitzer prize and be president. because he had the strong desire for literary fame, even though he did not want to do literary work, he got himself the prize. in new york city, in washington dc people have been gossiping that did kennedy write that book or i wonder who wrote that book
8:03 pm
or how much money they're getting out of those royalty checks but then the pulitzer changed the equation and it made it moral question and an ethical question and leaders realize the stupid when i got to the library i looked at the letters kennedy was receiving in 1957 and librarians were sending letters, saying did you really write this book and they were responding to the interview and you would not have accepted that prize if you did not write the book and that's not the right thing to do. >> watch sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. >> c-span, your unfiltered view of government. created by cable in 1979 and brought to you by today by your television provider. >> coming up tonight on c-span2 senators expressing their views on the iran war powers resolution. republican congressman of arkansas discusses his trillion
8:04 pm
treat initiative to help address climate change. after that, health and human services secretary testifies on the trump administrations 2021 budget request for his department. senators came to the floor to express their views on the iran war powers resolution that would limit the president's ability to take military action against iran without congressional approval. here's a look at what some of the senators had to stay starting with democratic leader, chuck schumer. >> ymadam president, today the senate will vote on a bipartisan war powers resolution authored by senator kaine,kadi erecting e president to terminate the use of armed forces for hostilities against the republic of iran. the constitution is clear, congress has the power to declare war. the president has no authority to enter the united sta


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on